Author John Green opens up about mental illness struggles in 60 Minutes interview

John Green on 60 Minutes
John Green talked about his own struggles on 60 Minutes. Pic credit: CBS

Teens have made author, podcaster, and YouTube star John Green famous. If you’re raising a teen, you probably know who Green is, but if not, you should know more about Green, the mental health advocate and Nerdfighter.

Green has been called America’s answer to J.K. Rowling. In 2014, his blockbuster book, The Fault in Our Stars, was made into a critically acclaimed movie starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Green’s young adult books have been translated into over 50 languages making him a bona fide global sensation.

But there’s another side to Green, one you may be surprised to learn about given the spotlight on his wild success. In a recent interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Green opened up about issues of mental health and shared insights that will resonate with many adults as well as kids.

“I had a difficult time in high school,” he said. “I wasn’t a very good student and I had a lot of self-destructive impulses and I felt scared all the time.”

When asked what he was afraid of, Green didn’t hesitate to answer, “everything.”

It’s the focus of his latest book, Turtles All the Way Down, a number one bestseller. In the book, he examines obsessive-compulsive disorder, something Green himself experiences.

It’s an honest look at the cognitive pitfalls and behavioral traps that OCD brings with it, like omnipresent anxiety and compulsive activity. Green’s goal is to give readers an inside look at what OCD looks and feels like. Not only is the book an engaging read, but it’s also invaluable for anyone with a friend or loved one struggling with OCD.

Based on the book’s inspiring and empowering message, hundreds of thousands of like-minded fans have formed “Nerdfighters,” a global community who in Green’s words, “fights for nerds … These are empowered nerds … we’re pro-nerd.”

Laughing, he says that the supportive community that has sprung up in response to his unabashedly honest book is really about, “being enthusiastic. Being nerdy is really about how you approach what you love.”

In the end, his message is clear. “I have a really wonderful life. I have a really rich, fulfilling life. I also have a pretty serious chronic mental health problem. And those aren’t mutually exclusive. And the truth is that lots of people have chronic mental health problems, and still have good lives.”

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